Summary: Once forgiven and assured that we are in Christ we can face the future with confidence, not because we have learned from our mistakes, but because we know we are getting nearer in time and spiritually, to God our Almighty and heavenly Father.
Text: Hebrews 12: 1-3
Sermon: Looking forward and to God
So much then for looking back, and looking down;
let us look forward,
as Christians have been encouraged to do ever since the 1st century.
According to the Bible, when we look forward
there's good news and there’s bad news.
The bad news is that things are going to get worse.
If you think things are bad today,
that the world is wicked,
with too much crime, vandalism, alcoholism, broken homes, etc., etc.,
I'm sorry, but the Bible says it is going to get a lot worse.
In Matthew 24 Jesus said there would be wars and rumours of wars,
famines and earthquakes.
In our lifetimes we may have to suffer from these things,
and in many places around the world today,
Christians are persecuted for their faith:
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan,
but thank God the final ‘Great Tribulation’
will be shortened, for the sake of the Elect.
READ St Paul, in 2nd Timothy 3-9.
In 1st Peter it describes about a time when Christians will be insulted
and in Revelation we can read about the ‘Great Tribulation’ that is coming,
but, while this is BAD NEWS,
the GOOD NEWS is that the Bible also says it's going to get better,
at least for some:
those who know the Lord.
Ever since Acts 1:9 when Jesus ascended into Heaven
40 days after his resurrection
Christians have been looking forward to his return.
We call this the "Parousia" or Second Coming,
when Jesus shall come back to Earth,
not as a weak little baby in swaddling clothes lying in a manger this time,
but as King of kings and Lord of lords, to judge and to rule.
In the early years of the Church,
Jesus was expected almost any day
which is why the first Christians were willing to give up their possessions
and even their lives in the Roman arenas.
As the centuries passed some disillusionment must have crept in,
which led some to argue that Jesus had not been the Messiah,
and also to some false prophets claiming to be the Messiah.
Many people, either sad or mad or plain wicked
have claimed to be the Christ,
and Jesus prophesied that this would happen,
until the Father decided it was he right time for Jesus to return.
As 999AD gave way to 1000 there was "Millenium Fever"
and when 1999 gave way to 2000 many films were made
about the end of the world due to asteroids or alien invasions
and there have been many films about the Occult.
In Russia there is a young man who claims to be Christ
and in India there is a Maharishi who also claims to be God incarnate.
Islamic fundamentalists believe that the Muslim Messiah, the Mahdi,
will come when the world is in a state of chaos and despair,
so some Muslim leaders are doing all they can to create this world-wide state of chaos and despair.
They may well try to restrict the flow of oil to the west,
no matter how much we are willing to pay for it,
£2, £5, even £10 per litre;
and they are developing nuclear weapons to launch at Israel.
They want to bring on the end of the world and the coming of the Mahdi,
on a white horse with a sword in his hand!
If that Mahdi is the Messiah, the Christ, then praise the Lord,
but personally I think Muslim fundamentalists are working for the devil.
Read 2nd Peter chapter 3 verses 3 – 14.
In 2nd Peter chapter 3 the apostle forecast that in the end times
there would be scoffers and people following their own evil desires,
and said Christians should look forward to the Day of the Lord
"making every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with God",
and not be taken in by ungodly people, who would be destroyed.
Read 1st Thessalonians 4: 13-18
Many people do not take the Bible literally nowadays,
preferring the ‘rational’ approach,
to fit in with Science and Contemporary Society.
Most go along with Richard Dorkings,
believing that Genesis 1 and 2 did not happen literally, and we evolved;
which means there was no literal, historical Adam or Eve,
and no original sin.
This means that what we call ‘Sin’ is just whatever ‘Society’ considers to be wrong, so if abortion and cannabis are illegal, and the law is changed,
then abortion and cannabis become acceptable.
If murder is against the law it is punished,
but if doctors are allowed to practice euthanasia to end ‘useless lives’,
then it is OK.
Jesus of course never really fed 5,000 people with loaves and fishes;
he just encouraged everybody to share what they had;
and he never really walked on water,